BE WARY OF WINTER
Old Man Winter is about to be on us again, and it’s the time of the year where everyone is scrambling to finish up their warm-weather projects and getting the house and property winterized and ready to take on whatever nature will throw at us.
As we get down to the nitty gritty, here are some reminders so you’re sure to be prepared.
Don’t be the last one to the big box store only to find an empty shelf where the bags of rock salt used to be. Check the tires on your vehicles and those of your family members to ensure they have proper pressure and enough tread for the coming snow. You can also check and replace the engine coolant and top off the windshield washer fluid with products specifically designed for cold weather.
Every vehicle in your care should have an emergency kit containing extra clothing and a blanket for warmth, signal flares and a signal panel, flashlight, food, water, fire-starting tools and a well-packed first aid kit. It is also a good time to check the spare tire and to make sure each vehicle has a working jack kit.
For your home, if you’re on well water, don’t forget to protect the pump, storage tank and exposed pipes with insulation, blankets or a heat lamp designed for that purpose. Keep plenty of potable water stored in your home as well in case the power goes out or your water pipes freeze, both of which can last for days or longer.
Fire is the number one cause of accidental death in the winter. Make sure your home’s fireplace has been properly serviced and your chimney cleaned to prevent injury or worse from fire hazards and smoke or combustion gases entering your living space.
If you use space heaters exercise extreme caution by ensuring that they cannot come in contact with anything flammable, such as curtains. Ensure that your children understand the danger of touching them or knocking them over and prevent pets from getting too close to these appliances.
Stay tuned to weather stations to get as much information as you can on any winter storm advisories, watches, or warnings and have a plan to be someplace safe before serious storms hit.
Keep driving to an absolute minimum when a winter storm is taking place. Remember, if it is not a true emergency, you are not only risking your life but you are also risking the lives of the first responders who will need to come and save you.
Make sure your snow removal tools are ready to go for the season. Whether you depend on shovels and ice scrapers, a snow blower or a lawn tractor with a plow, check their readiness before the first flakes fly.
If you have a pet that normally spends most of its time outdoors, you need to either bring it into your home or ensure it has a safe place to wait out storms with fresh food and water and a place for bio breaks.
Make sure you have plenty of warm clothes, hats, gloves and footwear for everyone in your household. If your furnace is fueled by liquid propane gas or oil then it is a good time to ensure your tank is full and you’re on an automatic replenishment plan with your supplier.
Another concern in the winter months is theft. Criminals look for homes that have untouched walks and driveways and no footprints after a snowstorm to let them know that chances are no one is home.
If you are a snowbird who leaves for warmer weather in the winter months or if you plan to be away from your home for any length of time, ask your neighbor or hire a responsible youth or plowing service to clear your walks and driveway.
Remember that while winter can be a beautiful time of the year, it can also be deadly if you ignore its dangers. Know the signs of frostbite and hypothermia as well as ways to treat cold-weather injuries and keep a healthy respect for Mother Nature at all times. And don’t wait until it snows to get your rock salt!
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the October, 2019 print issue of American Survival Guide.